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Archive for the ‘Washington Capitals’ Category

Before we delve into the diary for this evening, we would like to take a moment to recommend the cauliflower recipe from the New York Times this week – Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Brown Butter and Sage Salt. We’ve gotten about 10,000 cauliflowers from our farm share this fall, and tonight we finally dug into some of it using that recipe. It’s insane. Go for it. You can thank us later. (Just to brag about how awesome our farm is, we have gotten an unheard-of bounty this fall, and tonight we had the cauliflower with a roasted chicken, some buttered egg noodles, and honey-glazed carrots, turnips and rutabagas. It was a delicious night at stately IPB Manor. One of many in a delicious fall.)

So in extremely happy news, this game is going to be a gloomy slog of funlessness, as Ovechkin is not playing. We’ve never been so thrilled to know that the next two and a half hours of our lives were going to be devoid of fun. In other lineup news, the ZZ Bort Bort Borts are back together to start the game, as Bergfors has returned in record time from his turtle tank injuries.

FIRST PERIOD

18:31 We’re very busy eating right now. Have we mentioned that our dinner was really delicious tonight?

17:52 It didn’t take long for Doc and Chico to get on complaining about the trapezoid this evening. Our theory on why the rule hasn’t been taken out yet is that the GMs and Marty are playing a game of chicken. The GMs are trying to wait until Marty retires to take it out, and Marty’s hoping to stick around so long that he forces their hands.

16:37 Halischuk gets called for tripping when Semin falls over when he skates over near him. Pookie: “I have no problem with them calling that tripping as long as they call the even-up.” Pause. “This is where we need Getzi to beat that guy up for diving.” Pause. “It’s like Semin has no self-respect or something.”

15:45 There is no justice in the world, as Washington scores on that bullshit, shameful penalty. 1-0 Caps. We console ourselves knowing that Semin will eventually get to spend his eternity in the special circle of hell reserved for divers.

14:57 Ah. The phase of the season where the Devils knew how to win at home has come to an end. Some Cap whom we don’t care enough about to learn his name scores after some addled defensive-zone play from the home team. It’s 2-0 Caps. Pookie remarks, “It’s a good thing this dinner is so good, otherwise I’d be vomiting my marbles all over the place right now.” Doc is clearly thinking the same thing, as his response to this goal is to continue harping on how terrible the penalty call on Halischuk was.

13:34 The Pensblog guys recently declared that they are not going to write about Pens games anymore until Chris Bourque is off the team. We think that’s a good approach, and we’re considering taking it about Peters and the Devils. And as we watch Peters flub a clearing attempt by Marty, insult is added to injury as we realize Zach is stuck skating with Peters and Egg.

10:51 Here is a quote from Chico that sums up this period pretty well: “Like you said, Doc, the Devils with one shot in this period… [trails off] I can’t remember it. It was probably insignificant.”

10:12 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After some tenacious puck pursuit in the defensive zone, the Devils head up the ice on a rush: Zubrus to Langenbrunner to a streaking (yes, you read that right!) Colin White, and it’s 2-1 Caps. Well, we did not expect to ever see that!

8:16 Clarkson hits some Cap on the near boards. Pookie: “Okay, Clarkson can dive to draw penalties, because I know he doesn’t have any honor.” Heh. (MSG, by the way, takes this moment to tell us that was Whitey’s first goal since 2008. Chico tells us that’s hardly long at all, because Dano once went three times as long between goals.)

7:50 Doc thinks we give a shit about anything Bruce Boudreau has to say about his minor-league playing days. Doc? There’s a reason we are not going to read his book. Ever. (And yes, we are handing our marbles over to the Caps again. We know it. You don’t have to point it out.)

5:34 We come back from commercial to hear Gel-O giving us a report about Andy Greene’s response to that ridonkulous emperor-god-esque stat how he’s either assisted on or scored the game-winning goal in the last five games. Schnookie: “You mean Andy ‘Game Over’ Greene?”

4:16 The teams are back-and-forthing, and Doc takes the opportunity to tell us that Dave and Linda Greene are watching the game tonight. Schnookie absently sing-songs, “Hey Dave! Hey Linda!” Pause, during which she contemplates her empty wineglass. “I’m a bit toasty right now.”

1:11 Rolston and Langer get a chance on a really clever two-on-one, but Rolston ends up shooting into Theodore. That’s right, Rolston’s back to being the worst hockey player on the planet.

0:00 Well, the Devils stabilized a bit halfway through the period, but we would have preferred if they hadn’t spotted the Caps two goals.

FIRST INTERMISSION

You guys, this intermission was awesome. They’re talking up the food drive tonight, and in doing, show off some canned-food scupltures around the arena tonight. There’s a Zamboni made of 13,000 cans, a Prudential Center made of cans, a hockey goalie made of cans, and Devils and Prudential logos made of cans. The food drive/AIA spokesman tells us that the sculptures were all designed by architectural firms. Pookie: “I’m glad the AIA has a division for cans.” We would love to know how many families could be fed by that Zamboni sculpture. When they go to commercial, they show us a can sculpture of NJ Devil; it’s the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen:

NJ Devil CANS!

SECOND PERIOD

20:00 The period starts with Patty on the ZZ Line. We’ll just get it out of the way now by mentioning that he’s fired.

16:35 Doc and Chico sound disappointed that they have to return to talking about the play-by-play after taking a little bit of an aside to marvel at the can sculptures. We don’t blame them. We’re transfixed by our screenshot of the NJ Devil (which Doc dubs “the Terminator Devil”).

14:41 After milling about their own zone clumsily, the ZZ Pattys, all of a sudden, make three lightning-quick passes to give Zach a glorious scoring chance on which he shoots just wide. Is this the boring, trapping Devils Caps fans complain about?

14:24 Mike Green trips Travis to end the ZZ Pattys’ offensive-zone pressure. Pookie, aghast: “Travis has no honor!” Schnookie looks panicked for a moment, having missed the play, and Pookie quickly adds, “Just kidding. That was a good call.”

14:15 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s better! The PP takes to the ice with all kinds of swaggery forecheck, smart, quick passing, and laser-beam slapshots from Langer, and it’s a 2-2 game. That was a no-nonsense man advantage.

10:06 Huh. Marty’s apparently studying to become an American citizen sometime next month. Chico assures us that the test is extremely difficult, and Pookie, who has encountered it many times at her job, backs him up on this. She is confident that if she had to take the citizenship test today, she’d fail. And fail hard. Good thing the citizenship test for PaulieMartinNation was really easy.

9:56 Coming back from commercial, we’re trying to figure out if we would have any hope of successfully naming all the US Presidents. Boomer: “I get bogged down between John Quincy Adams and Lincoln.” Schnookie: “I get bogged down between Lincoln and, I dunno… Jimmy Carter.”

8:38 A feisty, buzzing shift by the Devils leads to a too-many-men penalty by the Caps. Whoa. Since when do other teams take those? That’s the Devils’ signature move. (MSG shows a prolonged shot of Boudreau throwing a hissy-fit on the bench. Pookie supplies the audio: “I won’t autograph my book for you! Okay, fine, I will, but I won’t personalize it. Okay, I’ll personalize it, but I won’t spell your name right!”)

5:17 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the least-surprising moment of the game for us, Zach scores on a breakaway thanks to some heads-up passing after a Semin offensive-zone turnover to catch the Caps on a bad change. We knew it was coming because we forgot that we feel behind on a wee spot of tivo delay at the end of the first intermission, but we can WOOOOOOOOOOOO! nonetheless. It’s 3-2 Devils, and Chico is on his high-horse about how dreadful Semin is.

3:51 You know what? We’re finally, after over a full year, taking Marty for granted again. It’s a nice feeling.

3:01 Mottau passes to Sestito in the defensive zone, and when Doc mentions their names in the play-by-play, Pookie says softly, “Sestito Puente?” Several long moments pass before Schnookie gets it.

2:27 Chico tries to tell us someone has left the game with an injury, but none of us were playing attention to know what he’s talking about.

1:39 Well, we’re not going to take Marty for granted on this play. The Devils are starting to look a bit surprised that the period hasn’t ended yet, and the Caps get a wide two-on-one deep in the Devils zone on a bit of broken play. Marty makes the stop on the first shot, but kicks the rebound directly out to Clark. It looks like a tie game for an agonizing second before Marty makes the second stop on one of those “Wait, the puck isn’t in the net???” saves with the very tip of his toe.

0:55 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So is this the boring, trappy Devils Caps fans complain about? After corralling a loose puck in the defensive zone, Sestito, Bergfors and Halischuk charge up the ice on a three-on-two, and Halischuk blasts a wrister past a helpless Theodore and in under the crossbar for his first NHL goal. It’s 4-2 Devils.

0:00 We love, love, loved this period. It was as delicious as our dinner, or an NJ Devil colossus made out of cans. And speaking of things we love, love, love, we get an interview with Travis. He’s such a sparkling conversationalist. And when Gel-O asks him how difficult it is to lace a rink-long pass like he did to Zach for the breakaway, Acorns pricelessly flatlines, “It’s pretty easy.”

THIRD PERIOD

Before the puck drops, “Chico Eats!” features Chico making a pastrami sandwich for his younger sister at Hobby’s Delicatessen. He decides to play a prank on her by putting tons of hot sauce on the sandwich. That Chico. He’s such a scamp.

18:30 The phonk??? The Devils get an out-of-thin-air scoring chance thanks to Zubrus making a goofy, “who knew he could do that?” play to elude the Caps defender, but his shot clanks off the inside of the goalpost and ricochets way out to safety. We’re not sure the Devils realize right now that Ovechkin is not playing tonight, which means there isn’t supposed to be any fun in the game.

16:42 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! None of us are even watching when the Devils score immediately off an offensive zone draw, and when Doc calls the goal, “Cory Murphy!”, Pookie says, “What the?– BOO!” Replay shows Travis winning the draw perfectly back to Murphy, and Murphy firing through a brilliant screen by Patty. And then Doc and Chico inform us that the Devils are the last team in the entire NHL to score five goals in one game. That seems… odd. Well, we’ll take it!

13:01 Morrison takes a crosschecking penalty on Langer, and Langer looks a bit gimpy getting up from the hit. Chico assures us, though, that there’s no way Langer won’t stay in the game, because this is the sort of game guys want to stay in.

11:53 The players aren’t the only ones having fun at The Rawk right now – the fans let rip with a lusty, rafter-rattling “RANGERS SUCK!” Now this is feeling like a good game.

8:34 When the Unseen Hand is brought up in the conversation between Doc and Chico, Pookie suddenly laments that there wasn’t an Unseen Hand can sculpture at the arena tonight.

5:49 Our take on the Devils goaltending tonight is that Marty has been delightful. He’s been playing tons of pucks behind the net, and playing them well. We like when he’s functionally stick-handling and involved in the play like that. It’s like he’s like a trapezoid-hindered third defenseman back there. And that’s our story.

4:31 Doc is rambling about some old-tyme game in which one guy (we weren’t paying very close attention at this point) head-butted Guy Lapointe three times in one fight. Chico: “Well, good for Guy Lapointe, hanging in there for three head-butts.”

3:29 Applesauce is now the only Devil without a point this season, and Chico tells us he was joking that if he didn’t score tonight, he was going to open a bagel shop. Pookie: “If he doesn’t score, he should become an airplane mechanic.” Pause. “Oh, a bagel shop. Like zeroes.” (Doc takes this opportunity to tell us that Applesauce’s pug Nellie had been hospitalized recently, but “is now home and wagging her tail”. The action on the ice is, as you can tell from the play-by-play, torrid.)

0:00 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was a delightful 1,000th regular-season win for the New Jersey Devils! We loved that! And we love our little early-season juggernaut Devils!

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Not too long ago Katebits introduced us to the notion of “giving away your marbles” instead of “losing your marbles”. It’s in those situations when you’re kind of letting something drive you batty instead of genuinely being driven batty by something outside of your own control. And so that brings us to the Washington Capitals, or, as Pookie declared them tonight, “The Washington Pookie-Giving-Away-All-Her-Marbles-es.” Yes, they annoy us way out of any reasonable proportion, but you know what? That doesn’t change that they really, really, really annoy us. So… here we go with the Devils and their atrocious home record playing against the team we let piss us off to no end. It should be fun.

FIRST PERIOD

19:48 Off the opening faceoff, the teams ping pong the puck around the neutral zone until the Caps clear it over the benches. Bruce Boudreau promptly complains that the Devils are playing with an express intent to cough up the puck weakly when the Caps are looking flat-footed so the Caps will cause a whistle.

17:24 For all the Ovechkin-haters out there (and we proudly include ourselves among them, in case there was any question) who thought this game would be a blissfully Ovechkin-free respite, think again. Doc informs us of all the details of all the shots Grape Ape has ever taken against Marty. Ah, we remember them all so fondly. Boudreau, meanwhile, complains to the media that the Devils are making a point of mentioning Ovechkin all the time just to try to throw the Caps off their game as they reflect on how much they miss him.

15:44 Rolston takes a short-range slapper after a little pump-fake freezes Varlamov in his crease, and the puck bounces high off the goalie’s shoulder and hits the outside of the net. The horn blows, even though a goal has not been scored. Boudreau bitches to the media that the Devils are deploying unfair goal horns.

12:55 The Caps try to mount some offensive pressure, but the Devils D is resolute in their own zone and skates safely out with the puck. Pookie, as Boudreau: “Since when are you allowed to steal the puck? We clearly had established possession.”

11:19 We go to commercial with the Iron Boar being whistled for some kind of penalty. As the picture fades to the advertisements, Boudreau can be seen passing notes to a sideline reporter in which he grouses that not enough penalties were called on the play. When we come back from commercial, the replay suggests that it’s not entirely clear what, exactly, Iron Boar was getting called for. Pookie posits that Boudreau cashed in one of his Sad Grape Ape cards to get the officials to give him a call to make up for this game being so terribly bereft of the inventor of fun.

9:58 The Devils get a long clear on the PK. Pookie: “Boudreau is like, ‘It’s not fair! Why are they allowed to ice it? That’s illegal when we do it.’”

6:55 Zach is sprung on a quasi-mini-break, and gets hog-tied and hauled down from behind, losing the puck and crashing into Varlamov. There is no call. Doc and Chico and the denizens of stately IPB Manor are baffled. Boudreau makes a note to mention to the media after the game that the Devils are a bunch of divers.

6:47 Chico informs us that the Russian media is claiming that Canadian players are targeting the top Russian players so as to undermine the Russian Olympic team. (Speaking of things to which we give all our marbles, it’s the Olympics and that baffling way that everyone starts every NHL season sounding surprised that hockey players get hurt. Yay!) Boudreau agrees with them.

3:45 Doc asks Chico how he feels about the Devils play so far, and as we watch the team kind of milling about with moderate purpose, Chico responds that it’s the best first period of the season for them. We think he might mean “at home”. Because this has not been an inspiring period of hockey from the team in red. Bruce Boudreau issues an official statement pointing out that it shouldn’t be fair for Atlantic Division teams not to play hard against the Caps, because it undermines the Caps media/fans’ argument that life would be so much more awesome if they were in the Atlantic instead of the Southeast.

2:50 Most of the Devils on the ice decide that Langer is going to successfully get the puck out of the defensive zone, because, we guess, they don’t realize that he’s Jamie Langenbrunner and can’t do anything right anymore. As Zach and Cory Murphy head off into the neutral zone, the Caps get the puck back, waltz down the slot, and some guy whose name we’re not going to bother learning calmly shoots the puck right past a bewildered Marty. It’s 1-0 Caps, and Pookie states firmly, “That wouldn’t have happened if Paulie wasn’t hurt.” Boudreau grumbles to anyone who will listen that the Devils shouldn’t be allowed to have a chance to try to even the score now.

1:44 Rolston looks like maybe he’s thinking about possibly making a good play in the offensive zone, but gets muscled off the puck by Tom Poti. Tom Poti. Pookie, to Rolston: “Tom Poti just made a good defensive play against you. You are the worst hockey player on earth.” Bruce Boudreau writes a letter to several major newspaper editors whining that we aren’t giving Tom Poti – or Tom Poti’s coach – enough credit on that play.

0:00 We get an interview with Mark Fraser in which he charmingly tries to assure everyone that the Devils will eventually figure out how to play at home. We disagree. The general consensus at stately IPB Manor is that the Devils are going to end the season 1-40 on home ice.

SECOND PERIOD

19:45 The intermission ended with a featurette on Varlamov’s mask, and Chico informs us that Varlamov’s “English is getting much better.” That’s the Russian-player version of Boomer’s favorite pat expression for how content a player is on any given team: “His kids are happy in school.” (Meanwhile, Marty has to make a flashy glove save on a point shot while Chico is talking about how crappy the Devils are. Pookie: “Boudreau is filing a complaint with OSHA that Marty is working in the salt mines without proper papers.”)

17:52 Clarkson is out with Zach and Travis. We like this a million, billion times more than Zach and Travis with Langer. Pookie dubs this new line “ZZ Dos-Tres”. Boudreau sends a telegram to the league asking them to review whether it’s allowed for a team to try mixing and matching players to figure out a line that will work well together, because he thinks it sounds pretty unfair when someone’s doing it against his team.

16:57 Egg gets involved in a scrum to the side of the Caps goal, yet the arena continues to sound sepulchral. There’s nothing quite like Devils home games when the Yankees are playing in the World Series. Boudreau says aloud to no one in particular on the bench that it’s just wrong that the Devils should be permitted to play in a sports market in which fans care about more than one professional team at a time.

16:27 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brian Rolston is, for just one play, only the second worst player on the ice as his centering attempt from behind the net (after some admittedly good work by a line of him, Nieder the Lesser, and Langer) ricochets into the goal off a spinning, sliding, pathetic defender in front. It’s 1-1 Devils, and replay shows us all manner of plays leading up to the goal that Boudreau will probably hold up later as uncalled penalties. (Replay shows the pathetic defender is Mike “Game Over” Green. It warms the cockles of our giving-away-all-our-marbles hearts. Heh.)

13:23 Doc tells us the Devils are “a different team” than they were in the first period, as they seem to be warming – albeit slightly – to the task of playing hockey. Boudreau takes him literally and declares the rest of this game is being played under protest. Meanwhile, Marty has to make a good kick-save on a flurry in front, and Pookie enjoys booing Cory Murphy on the play. During our early days as hockey fans, Larry Murphy was playing in Toronto and getting booed by the home fans every time he stepped on the ice, so ever since then, every time we’ve heard his name, we’ve instinctively booed. We are now delighted to have our very own Murphy to boo.

11:34 We come back from a commercial to see Zach chewing on his mouthguard on the bench, while Chico tells us how he’s second in the league in shots taken. He explains that Zach has figured out that the more shots you take, the more goals you’ll score, and makes it sound like it took Zach exactly this long to realize that. Zach’s like, “I say! I’m not a moron!” Meanwhile, Boudreau is wondering how it can be within the rules for a player who isn’t Ovechkin to take lots of shots.

11:04 Semin slashes Whitey’s stick out of his hand and gets called for it. Pookie: “Boudreau is wondering now how it’s fair that you can have only one hand on your stick, get the stick slashed to the ice, and the other team gets called for slashing.” Pause. “Also, he’s declared that if the Blue Jackets are targeting Ovechkin, then the Caps are going to target Whitey.” Sounds like a good plan, Gabby.

8:21 Zubrus turns the puck over behind Marty’s net. Schnookie says very slowly, “Zubrus. I’d forgotten about him.” Pookie: “I keep forgetting about, like, half of our lineup.” Boudreau complains that the Devils are obviously playing with invisible players, and that’s got to be against the rules.

5:43 The ZZ Dos-Treses get a sort of slow-developing four-on-three on which Zach decides to try a cross-rink pass to the trailer rather than shooting. A goal does not result. Schnookie, exasperated: “Zach! Whatever happened to Mr. Shootsalot?” Pookie, as Zach: “You said you don’t like how Ovechkin plays, so I decided to pass!” Boudreau: “It’s like they’re going out and making questionable decisions on odd-man-rushes. It’s not fair!”

5:20 We come back from a commercial to get a visit from Stan on the sidelines talking up what he’s going to discuss during intermission. He promises to examine the Coyotes ownership situation, and Boomer suddenly perks up, “Is that what you guys got me for Christmas?” Boudreau adds a chapter to his book for the next printing in which he will complain at length about how fans of poorly-attended East-Coast teams should not be allowed to buy poorly-located Western-Conference teams for their mothers for Christmas.

4:39 Marty draws a little happy cheering from the crowd when he makes a big, sassy glove save on Mike Green. Chico tells us, while we watch a replay, that Marty stopped “the guy they call ‘Lambourghini’.” Pause. “’LambourGreenI’.” Pookie: “’LambourGameOveri”. Boudreau quivers at the outrage of Chico and us making fun of a valiant Cap’s valiant nickname.

3:11 Zach flicks a little feed from behind the net to a player dashing into the crease, but the attacking player doesn’t convert. Pookie gasps in exasperation, “TRAVIS!” Then she realizes it’s Halischuk. “HALISCHUK!” she sighs, “Why can’t you be more like Travis?” Boudreau mentions to members of tonight’s attending media that the Devils are cloning players, and he thinks that’s not right.

2:06 Zzzzz. Egg fights Chris Clark. Her? And Her?

IPB Fight

Pookie: “Clark just got beaten up by an egg.” Boudreau: “Cheater!”

1:25 Chico tells us something about how Jacques is such a great coach because he’s always cheering on his players and keeping things positive. Pookie: “Do you get the feeling he only cheers them on sarcastically?” Schnookie: “Yeah, he’s always giving them slow claps and they’re always like, ‘Oooh! He’s clapping for me! I love applause!’” Boudreau issues a statement in which he decries that the Devils are stacking the deck unfairly against the Caps by employing a coach this evening who has previously won a Jack Adams trophy.

0:00 We think that period was a lot more like what Chico thought he was seeing from the Devils in the first before they gave up the goal.

THIRD PERIOD

Our Chico Eats tonight features the Brick City Grill, and it features Gel-O eating with Chico. And after we watch in horror while Gel-O took an outrageously humongous bite of whatever, Pookie says in awe, “Gel-O just took a bite the size of his head. He unhinged his jaw like a snake.” Boudreau shrieks, “No fair! They have a snake man hosting their studio show!” Meanwhile, Gel-O is now shaped like a slowly-digesting 32-oz. steak.

18:44 We are having a hearty laugh at the thought of Caps fans watching their team be as flat as the Devils tonight and howling about how it’s all the Devils’ and their no-good trap. Pookie suggests that Boudreau is going to complain that the Devils aren’t playing a 1-2-2, but rather a 6-0 trap. “I mean, there’s no one behind Brodeur!” she protests, “He’s just lining up on the goal line!”

17:52 Despite a high-energy forechecking shift, the ZZ Whoevers are not able to score. In fact, Zach is never going to score again. Boudreau would be able to find something shady about that if he wasn’t so busy right now protesting “Chico Eats!” for clearly being a jab aimed at him for being fatter than Ken Hitchcock.

16:41 Semin has a week and a day to walk across the crease and shoot over a challenging Marty, but Marty bests him with a sliding, stacked-pad save. Boudreau indignantly informs everyone watching that it seems as though Marty is specifically trying to stop the Caps players from getting goals.

16:09 Whitey has apparently left the game, and Doc and Chico don’t know why. Pookie: “He’s tired of being hunted. He didn’t sign up to be the Most Dangerous Game.” As soon as we type that, Whitey returns to the ice. A messenger pigeon from Boudreau flies into the picture window in the living room of stately IPB Manor with a note attached to its leg that reads, “Isn’t that cheating that Colin White gets to come back to the game after leaving it?”

15:07 Knuble gets called for boarding Zubrus in the corner to Varlamov’s right. Pookie, as Boudreau: “Whatever that call was, it’s not fair.”

13:59 Doc mentions Cory Murphy in the course of his play-by-play. Pookie: “BOOOO!” Bruce Boudreau wonders if it’s within the rules for fans to boo players on their own teams, and decides that it’s of questionable legality and definite classlessness.

13:07 Chico tells us a story, apropos of Rolston’s slow start, about how he used to get all stressed out whenever he made mistakes early in his broadcasting career. And Doc used to tell him, way back when, to just forget about it after he said something wrong, “because it’s already on its way to Mars.” That is good life advice, we think. And Boudreau thinks it’s way unfair that the Devils broadcast team gets first dibs on a manned mission to Mars, because he’s the one with a new book out, and isn’t that who Martians would want to meet? Also, he was in Slap Shot.

9:24 Chico’s summary of the third period to date is that the Caps are sitting back waiting for the perfect, long-range offensive strike to present itself, and the Devils are working the puck down low and trying to generate chances through effort. Boudreau lets the media know that it doesn’t sound very fair when you put it that way.

8:59 Semin’s approach to trying to get that one perfect offensive strike involves taking a terrible hooking penalty deep in the Devils zone. Boudreau whines that the Devils getting more PPs than the Caps in this period is the result not of the Devils outplaying the Caps, but rather because the league hates Washington.

8:37 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Mere moments ago Schnookie wondered aloud, “Has Bergfors been playing in this entire game?” Cue an olde-tyme, classic, real-deal five-man-snoozeout that culminates in a Bergfors slapshot that blows right through Varlamov. It’s 2-1 Devils, and Boudreau is pretty sure he has a point about the league hating the Caps, since they didn’t get put in the Winter Classic and all.

6:55 Boomer refers to Boudreau as “Chatty” instead of “Gabby”, prompting Pookie to declare his book should be called Chatty Cathy: Confessions of a Shameless Self-Promoter. Boudreau complains that Pookie has just stolen and plagiarized the sequel to his book that is, by the way, available for purchase at bookstores now.

5:48 We come back from commercial to find out that the Devils bench is short one guy, but we don’t catch who it is. Boudreau is outraged that the Devils aren’t required to forfeit for being unable to field a full lineup for the remainder of this game.

5:36 Morrison, whom Doc and Chico have delightfully passive-aggressively spent much of tonight referring to as “an ex-River Rat”, takes a really atrocious hooking penalty deep in the Devils zone. Boudreau prepares his postgame rant to the media about how he’s noticed a trend in this game of the officials noticing when his team commits hooking infractions, calling them for it, and then forcing them to skate for two minutes without the offending hooking guy on the ice.

4:50 WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The unfairness! It’s so awesome!!! Who is this dynamic power play, and what has it done with our Devils? After some nice puck movement around the perimeter, Travis rips a long-range wrist-shot that Zach is right on the doorstep, completely undefended, to tip just past Varlamov. 3-1 Devils. Boudreau is horrified that the Devils would be so classless as to shoot pucks toward the Capitals net and actually try to get them past the goaltender. (Replay later shows that Zach did not tip that shot, but the goal is credited to him at first. By the time the three stars are announced, the goal is changed to Bergfors, who apparently tipped it out higher. Boudreau finds that all very suspect.)

3:56 The parade of horrendously lazy, terrible, quitting-on-the-game penalties for the Caps in the offensive zone continues, and the Devils go back on the PP. Boudreau wonders when the even-up calls are going to come, because there’s a guarantee every night that both teams will get even chances, if not more for the Caps.

1:46 Semin gets a breakaway coming out of the penalty box, and Marty calmly stops him. We cackle with glee, tossing our marbles everywhere, while Boudreau grouses that the goal the Caps shoot at should be bigger than the one the other team shoots at, just because it’s so much funner when Caps players score than when anyone else does.

1:37 After a Caps timeout, the Caps score on their set play off the faceoff in the Devils zone. It’s 3-2 Devils, and Boudreau fumes to the off-ice officials that he should be allowed to have a second timeout, because he was pretty awesome during the one he just took.

0:00 Things get very hairy during the last 100 seconds of the game, but the Devils D bends without breaking, and the horn finally sounds on what turned out to be, less the first period, actually not a badly-played game at all. For the Devils. After the first period, the Caps were terrible. Boudreau calls a press conference to ask that the trap be outlawed, because that’s clearly the reason the Devils won tonight. Meanwhile, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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7:00 PM Why, oh why are the Devils finally getting some national notice? Stupid fucking Versus. With their adamant refusal to ever show illustrative replays and their aversion to descriptive play-by-play, Versus games are impossible to game diarize IPB-style. So we’ll be woolgathering tonight. Also, we’re probably going to be requiring medical assistance early in the game, because with Beninati getting the call, we’re going to exceed our RDA of the nickname “Great Eight” (or is that just “GR8”?) by about 700,000%.

7:02 PM And speaking of getting a national audience all of a sudden, we suppose it would be asking too much for anyone to point out on during this broadcast that Clemmensen’s success is not proof that Marty’s career was just a product of the system. The notable thing about the Clemmensen Era is that it’s been all about the Devils abandoning their old system because, without Marty, gone are the days of thinking two goals are enough. Gone are the days of feeling secure with a one-goal third period lead. Gone are the days of the goaltender single-handedly winning games the team has no business winning. Casual observers outside of Devils fandom who feel Clemmer’s stats are a clear-cut refutation of Marty’s aren’t seeing the whole picture. (The whole picture for us features a lot of flashbacks to the Devils a year ago, where defensive-zone stands would often end with five guys standing around, collapsed down by the net, facing into the crease. Remember that, Gentle Reader? Let’s see Clemmensen lead that Devils team to the playoffs. If this season had proved anything about Marty, it’s that he deserved way better than the underachieving team he had in front of him last year.)

FIRST PERIOD

7:12 PM Early in the first, Pookie mutters around her dinner, “I’m trying not to tie in all my happiness with the Devils winning tonight.” Schnookie: “Good choice. They’ve won eight in a row. They’re not winning tonight.”

7:14 PM There is a stoppage that allows Versus to give us a wide-angle look at a mostly-empty lower bowl at The Rawk. It’s a better crowd than we would have expected, given the shitty weather we’ve been getting all day.

7:15 PM Clarkson tangles with Brashear during a change and ends up costing the Devils what is possibly the stupidest too many men penalty of the entire season. Blobby probably sees the play and thinks, “Oh, I can top that.”

7:16 PM The second PK unit doesn’t dominate quite as well as the first one did, so it’s 1-0 Caps.

7:21 PM If we had any question whether it was going to be Star Of The Month Langer or Putrid Langer playing tonight, that question is answered here. He takes a hooking penalty (goodness only knows whether it was typically Langer-bad, or just a run-of-the-mill hook, because Versus doesn’t give us a replay), and the Caps quickly score off the faceoff. 2-0 Caps. This surprises no one at stately IPB Manor.

7:25 PM The Devils are on the power play now, and Versus takes the opportunity to show us a crappy highlight of the Caps goal rather than a look at the infraction. Honestly, it’s like the people who put these broadcasts together have never actually watched a hockey game on TV.

7:34 PM We probably shouldn’t admit this, but we laugh every time that Jim Beam commercial with the dream girlfriend comes on.

7:40 PM We are flummoxed by Beninati’s take on Clemmer, the “trusty understudy”. We know not everyone pays as much attention to the Devils as we do, but honestly, the revisionist history surrounding Marty, Clemmer, and their respective roles in this organization is enough to force us to pen “The Plot Against The Ookies’ Sanity”. (If he was trusty he probably would have gotten more starts. When he was with the Leafs organization. Last year.)

7:45 PM The period ends with a well-earned smattering of boos from the light crowd. Yeah, if we were there we’d be pretty pissed we ventured out in the snow for that Devils performance. But instead we’re cozily ensconced at home, thinking happy thoughts about February 26. Pommerdonutdoodling!

Pommerdonutdoodling

SECOND PERIOD

8:00 PM Benenati omits “ring ho” from his breathless summary of Shanny’s career.

8:03 PM Yeah, it’s just the system. It doesn’t matter who’s in net for the Devils — Future Hall of Famer or one-year-removed from backing up the Marlies — the goalie was going to dive to the ice on that play, bobbling the puck directly to Nylander for a shot at a wide open net. 3-0 Caps.

8:05 PM Because Gr8 is such a cool nickname, we’ve decided we’re going to start calling Zach “Fine” or “F9” which will be pronounced as if spoken by Paul Rudd’s character in “Wet Hot American Summer”.

8:15 PM Ooh. Two-man advantage for the Devils. We gird ourselves for the scorched-earth attack.

8:15:10 PM As soon as we finish rolling our eyes at the 5-on-3, Rollie blows a giant shot through traffic that catches Theodore sliding aimlessly across the goal mouth. 3-1 Caps.

8:18 PM Pookie: “I’m glad Beninati told us that Mike Green and Andy Greene aren’t related. Because, you know, their names aren’t spelled differently.”

8:25 PM We are both distracted from the TV when Beninati calls a play “Number Eight gets the puck off the faceoff”, and Pookie says, “Zubrus?” (We are both, however, looking at the TV when the Devils get a four-on-two rush, on which Schnookie, ever prescient, says, “They’re not going to get a shot here.” They don’t.)

8:28 PM We are told, as if it is news, that when Ovechkin arrived for his rookie year, he announced he wanted to play his best and win the Stanley Cup. It is 2009, people. We live in a global society. No one ever praises a North American rookie for saying he wants to play his best and win Stanley Cups; when will this ridiculously condescending provincialism about Europeans and Russians in the NHL be eradicated? Honestly! (Although maybe we’re mistaken and guys like Zach Parise, Sid Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards, et al don’t want to play their best or win Stanley Cups. If that’s the case, we stand corrected.)

8:33 PM Clarkson takes another penalty, doubtless a stupid one (although we can’t be certain. Versus). Is this Pando playing himself back into the lineup?

8:34 PM The second period comes to an end and we mosey into the kitchen to invent a cocktail to commemorate our week of being on Versus. We’re calling the drink the “Show Us Your V”. Or, if we’d been calling them “Blersus” tonight, the “Show Us Your Bl”.

THIRD PERIOD

8:53 PM We still have the TV muted from intermission when Langer tries to atone for being Putrid Langer earlier by scoring on a shorthanded breakaway. WOO HOOO! 3-2 Caps.

9:00 PM We are, much to our surprise, enjoying our cocktails. They were deliberately intended to be noxious, to reflect our moods about this game and the Rangers one on Monday being on Versus. But instead, they’re… kinda good, in a girly way. We’ll have more about this tomorrow. Until then, let this whet your appetite:

Show Us Your V Prep

9:03 PM Beninati calls Patty, for the second time in recent memory, “dangerous”. Schnookie: “I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.” Pookie: “Well, he called him ‘sinister’ in the game intro. I’m like, ‘What, were you bitten on the face by, like, a baby bunny when you were a baby, Joe?'”

9:06 PM This evening’s sideline reporter informs us that Brashear is “an African-American who was born in Canada”. Oh-kaaaaay.

9:07 PM We have decided to call Patty “Sinister Patty” from now on, only it’s pronounced “SIN-pat” and is spelled S26P.

9:08 PM There is no justice in the world. The Caps score on a PP off a really shitty call against Rupper. 4-2 Caps, and Pookie says, “It looks like our goalie options right now are either last year’s backup from the Marlies, or the pumpkin Scott Clemmensen has turned back into.”

9:17 PM One good thing about this game is that it seems to be going very quickly. There’s only four minutes left!

9:23 PM The Caps get an empty netter, making it 5-2 Caps, and we’re informed that “The GR8 celebrates alongside Bruce Boudreau”. The rest of the Caps are probably also happy, but Beninati doesn’t care.

9:25 PM Ah, Devils. We know you so well. Thanks for crapping the bed just the way we expected you to.

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As we’ve come to the crushing realization that our Devils are, unexpectedly, going to really and truly suck this season, alix has been helpfully suggesting a way to make the long, miserable months ahead much more fun. Her recommendation? Invent cocktails and name them after the reasons why our fandom is such a terrible burden to bear. This is an activity we can totally get behind, and we kicked things off last weekend.

The Kevin Weekes Era

The situation was that we had half a bottle of red wine leftover from the night before, a hankering for mixed drinks, a limited number of ingredients, and a plan to name our cocktail of the day “The Kevin Weekes Era”. So Schnookie perused her library of mixology books and discovered a recipe for a noxious brew that combined a lot of gin with a little bit of the wine, some rum, and a dash of orange juice. The finished product was lovely (see above), but as nasty-tasting as you’d expect.

We hastily poured them down the drain and decided to drink vicariously through an episode of Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee. Well, what do you know? That day Sandra was making things with wine, and her Cocktail Time concoction was a red wine spritzer. We still had most of that half a bottle of wine, so, inspired by Sandra, Schnookie mixed that up with seltzer, some brandy, and some Cointreau. It was considerably more palatable, but still not the finest beverage known to man. We decided the first drink should be renamed “The Scott Clemmensen Era” and the tastier one “The Kevin Weekes Era”.

Well, it turns out we were right the first time. The Kevin Weekes Era apparently sucks worse than the Scott Clemmensen one, but you know what? They’re both not as good as the wine would have been on its own. And the moral of the story is you should only subject yourself to either of these Eras if you have no choice at all.

On that note, let’s all sit back, have many drinks, and enjoy an open thread for tonight’s hockey.

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FIRST PERIOD

8:20 pm PaulieMartinNation exhales after holding its collective breath for days. It’s such a relief to have his zany Gopher self back in the line-up. We have such low expectations for this game, having ol’ number 7 on the blueline is enough. *happy sighs*

8:30 pm The Iron Boar leaves the ice clutching at his face. Replay shows Ovechkin skating around the Devils zone, swinging his stick at shoulder height as he pumps his arms to build up a head of steam to charge a Devil standing at the far boards, then, when he leaves his feet to plaster the Devil, his target steps calmly out of the way and Ovechkin instead leaps heavily face-first into the glass. The whole sequence was just because he’s too exuberant and full of joy to be able to control himself, so Ovechkin can’t be held accountable for Iron Boar being so unfortunate to have had his head in the way of that recklessly swinging stick. Also, if his target had been stupid enough to stand in the way of that oncoming charge, that also wouldn’t have been a penalty, because it’s an overabundance of love for hockey that makes Ovechkin behave that way.

8:35 pm The addition of Paulie and his patented Gopher Volante move has not improved the Devils power play.

8:37 pm The addition of Paulie and his patented Gopher Volante move has not improved the Devils’ proclivity for taking stupid penalties.

8:38 pm The addition of Paulie and his patented Gopher Volante move has not improved the Devils penalty kill.

8:45 pm How many games will it take before, when the action collapses around our goal, we will stop freaking out that someone mistakenly let a Mites On Ice participant play in net? 10 games? 20 games?

8:57 pm At the end of the first period, we realize we are becoming increasingly comfortable with this awful, awful team of ours. It was jarring, the transition from playoff team to “why do they have a Mites On Ice participant in goal, and are there even Mites On Ice who have hands of cement quite as badly as the Devils forwards?” team, but we think we might be growing accustomed to them now.

SECOND PERIOD

9:19 pm We are trying to decide what Lou could get for Langer if he listed him on Craigslist. A dear friend of ours recently acquired an extremely comfy chair and ottoman she found there; we’re not sure Lou could get something that nice. Maybe he should list him on Freecycle instead.

9:34 pm MSG+ shows us a graphic with this information on it: the Devils have scored 4 goals in the last 10+ periods they’ve played. We would not have guessed it was that many. This is pertinent information at this juncture in the game because the Devils are gaining the Washington zone with ease, but are making Theodore — Jose Theodore, people — look good.

9:37 pm Travis takes a shot from the far boards and it hits the outside of the net, while Doc misidentifies him as Langer. We crack that Travis is shouting, “I am not Jamie Langenbrunner!” Moments later he is covering the point while Salmela tries to drive toward the net, and when the puck skips back to him, Travis freezes up and the puck squibs out over the blue line. We figure then Travis sags, “Oh my god. I am Jamie Langenbrunner.”

9:43 pm On the power play, Langer gets his 400th Grade A scoring chance of the night, and, for the 400th time tonight, fires the puck straight into Theodore. Schnookie: “Langer has not, I don’t think, figured out that you want to shoot the puck where the goalie isn’t.” Pookie: “Langer’s probably thinking goalies expect guys to shoot where they’re not, so he’s hoping to catch them by surprise. It’s the signature move that’s going to make him famous.”

9:45 pm Once again, the power play fails to score. Once again, the other team promptly scores as soon as they’re back at even strength. Once again, the Devils are really, really terrible. We have seen iterations of the Devils who have been able to win despite a shitty power play, but so far this year, they are being completely undone by how consistently dreadful they are with the man advantage. They are not a healthy Brian Rolston away from suddenly having a functional PP. They are not a healthy Bobby Holik away from it either. They are also not a healthy Marty Brodeur away from it. We don’t even know what to say about it. It just… bad. There are a lot of aspects of the current putridity of this team that we’re comfortable-bordering-on-content with, but the lousy PP is not one of them.

THIRD PERIOD

9:55 pm Speaking of the lousy PP, we have a potential suggestion for fixing it. Today at work, Pookie had an appointment to help a sweet little old lady with learning how to use email. The sweet little old lady wailed that she couldn’t get into her email account and that her home computer must be broken. She procured the slip of paper with her username and password and proceeded to enter them with many, many mispellings. Pookie encouraged her to take out the extra letters and lo and behold, it worked! The sweet little old lady’s face lit up as she said, “It’s so easy! I was just doing it wrong!” Her face fell then, as she explained that when it didn’t work at home she just got more and more frustrated and just made it worse by being scared of the computer, while her son berated her, “You’re not learning anything, Mom! You should just forget it.” We think that maybe Sutter is that jerky son, and that the Devils PP is the sweet little old lady. They just need someone to say in a bright, encouraging tone: “I want you to promise me that you won’t be afraid of scoring on the power play! If you miss a shot or hit a post, that’s okay, you can just try again! You don’t need to be scared at all! Just take out that typo and you’ll be golden! You’re doing great!” Devils, call us, we’ll happily work on a Special Sweet Little Old Lady Assignment. You can pay us in glossies of the whiteboards in the dressing room.

10:00 pm Unless, of course, the are unafraid of scoring on the PP, and are too coddled. Maybe they need a hardass telling them that if they don’t score on the next PP, all five guys on whichever unit it is that fails will be shot out of a giant cannon into outer space. Devils, call us. We’ll happily work on Special Space Cannon Assignment. You can pay us in glossies of Langer in another team’s uni. (And not the Stars. We’d see through that.)

10:07 pm Schnookie, darkly: “You know, I wouldn’t even notice anymore if Patty got benched.”

10:08 pm Patty scores easily on a long breakaway, cutting the Caps lead to 2-1. He glares pointedly at Schnookie. Schnookie glares defiantly back.

10:27 pm For the umpteenth time this season we find ourselves at the end of a Devils loss thinking, “It could have been a lot worse.” If the Devils ever figure out how to score, the sky’s the limit. Or, um, something.

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Today was a whirlwind of hockey, and while we’re too busy being (in Dallas) to give it the full-on travelogue treatment (you’ll just have to wait a few days for our report about Sonic ice [hint: our conclusion? It rhymes with “blabulous”]), it’s definitely hockey- and blog-pertinent to do a quick write-up of our hockey adventures. Today was the centerpiece of our visit, the big day of meeting Caitlin, Myra, Hub and The Kid and seeing the Stars take on the Avalanche.

It should surprise absolutely no one to learn that the whole gang was awesome and not at all ax murderer-y (see kids? Meeting people on the interwebs is fun!), nor should it surprise any hockey fan who’s seen a game on TV from Dallas that the Stars arena is well worth the trip here. It was the 17th NHL arena that we’ve been to, and is easily the nicest of all the ones that don’t have Devils logos on the urinals.

October 18 2008

We were feeling pretty confident that we were bringing “good game” mojo into the house with us, and we weren’t disappointed from a purely entertainment standpoint. From start to finish, the Stars and Avs gave us a taste of everything hockey has to offer: fights, chippiness, speed, good passing, good shooting, fights, crappy goaltending, fights, crappier goaltending, bad penalties, catastrophic goaltending, fights, overturned goals, moronic penalties, and lots of goals. The only problem was that the wrong team won. And while we were truly sorry for our despondent hosts, and felt our bile rising at having seen an Avalanche win in person that included a goal by Darcy Tucker, the thrill of a great game was enough for us to consider it an afternoon well-spent.

Caitlin steered us all after the game to a colossally good Tex-Mex place, Matito’s, where we gorged on crazy-good food and spent many, many hours enjoying fantastic company. And we have TiVo to thank for the easy, breezy nature of the get-together, because while we were being sociable in person, Patty’s massive TV set-up was humming away recording the Devils/Caps game for us. (Seriously, people, Patty’s TV is huge. It’s like having hockey games happen in your lap.) So after getting our fill of enchiladas de mole, stuffed jalapenos, and the like, we moseyed back to Patty’s, hunkered down, and soaked up the Devils offensive explosion (relatively speaking).

Our take on the game was that if it had ended the way the Hockey Gods intended, in a tie, it would be one of those where both teams have reason to be happy and both teams have reason to be pissy. We’re thrilled that they managed to score more than two goals for a change (and got an entire two in one period! Madness!). We loved the confidence the Devils generally had on the puck, and their assertiveness on the forecheck. We giggled with glee for Patty becoming the Devils all-time assists leader, and Vrana (Vrana Vrana) getting his first goal, and Zach scoring in the shootout on that sick move. We were less thrilled with all the penalties and the not winning in regulation. But you know what? So what! We’re on vacation, the Devils aren’t starting this season with only three wins in their first ten games, and life is grand.

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This first round of the playoffs has been chipping away at our will to live lately, so we’re trying to be proactive tonight. No one’s going to make our happiness for us, so instead of passively waiting for hockey to bring the RAWK!!! to us, we’re going to bring the RAWK!!! to it. Or, in lieu of RAWK!!!, game diaries.

To start things off, we’ve got the Caps and Flyers, only because our cable is coming out of Philly, we’re either miserably stuck with the Flyers Comcast feed or blissfully unable to watch on VS, depending on your point of view. Regardless, it’s in HD, so that makes us happy.

FIRST PERIOD

20:00 Before the drop of the puck, it should be pointed out that we are really unfamiliar with the Flyers broadcasters, save for one. In case you were wondering where Bill Clement ended up after Pierre McGuire Eve Harringtoned him, wonder no longer. He’s doing color on Comcast for the Flyers. We have spent more than our fair share of Flyers games this season saying, “Hey, that guy sounds SO MUCH like Bill Clement!” and now we know why.
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